What is the CEO disease?

In this "What is" video, Vlerick Professor Katleen De Stobbeleir explains what the CEO disease is.

The good news is that it's not a real disease. It's also not something that only CEOs suffer from. Any leader could have it. So what is it? It's a phenomenon that many leaders remain isolated from honest feedback. Meaning, the higher you climb in an organisation, the less likely that people will share their honest opinions about you, your leadership style, and your decisions.

So what are some of the symptoms? First of all, people who suffer from the CEO disease tend to surround themselves with ‘yes’ others, people who only have nice things to say about them.

Secondly, they also tend to take negative feedback more personally. It often affects their ego very much, just because they remain isolated from critical feedback. This of course, has some negative consequences, both for yourself, but also for the company. First of all, for yourself, you will notice that you don't really connect with people, and that they might ultimately disengage. Secondly, it also impacts your business negatively because it affects the quality of your decision-making. You don't get the input you need to make high quality decisions.

So how can you cure yourself from this disease? First of all, start with asking critical feedback. Ask people to share their opinions and to voice their ideas. For that, it's important to also create a safe environment, an atmosphere where people really feel comfortable doing so. If you notice that people are still a bit reluctant to share their feedback, you might also decide to engage in a 360 feedback process. After all, feedback is the breakfast of champions.

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